How a Legal Library Brought Stacey Ustian to Dataquest
Stacey Ustian, Data Engineer
Today, Stacey Ustian is a data engineer. But the path that led her here wasn’t always easy. Her journey to data science started in a rather unusual place: the law library.
After earning her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, Ustian took a job working in the library of a law firm. But she discovered she liked working with information more than she liked shelving books, and after a few years she transitioned into a role as a research analyst at another firm.
Learning with Dataquest
Ustian’s husband, a data scientist, recommended she start learning SQL to expand her skills. After some Googling, Stacey found a learning platform — not Dataquest — and started studying SQL and Python.
But there was a problem.
“I got the basic syntax down, but I found that I had a lot of trouble when I went to start a data project on my own,” she says. “I just didn’t really know how to get started, what to do, et cetera. It was pretty frustrating.”
Prepping for a Career Change
“At that point,” she says, “I knew that this other [learning] platform was not the one.” So she began searching for an alternative. Eventually, she found Dataquest.
“That was a turning point for me, honestly,” she says.
“I went back and started re-learning Python and SQL on Dataquest. In addition to teaching me the syntax, [Dataquest] taught me the theory and the ideas behind what I was typing, which just gave me a deeper understanding of things.”
So she went all-in. “I just full-time plowed through the Data Analyst path in, I don’t know, something like two and a half months,” she says. “I was doing it eight hours a day.”
From Analyst to Engineer
Ustian’s intention was to find a data analyst job. So after she put together a portfolio of projects, including one of Dataquest’s SQL guided projects, she started looking for data analyst jobs.
To her surprise, an outside recruiter contacted her on LinkedIn about a data engineering role. “I went through that interview process,” she says, “and it turned out they were just really looking for someone that had an understanding of Python and SQL and that was willing to learn what they needed to learn in this data engineering role.”
When they offered her the job, she took it. “It’s perfect,” she says, “because I know that Dataquest just launched its data engineering path.”
“I’m like, ‘Well, I know what my next task is: start that and learn data engineering,’” she laughed.
Advice for Data Science Learners
Ustian advises everyone to know their own learning style. “I don’t learn by videos,” she says, so she knew to choose a platform that didn’t teach through video.
“I would recommend taking time to really understand the different platforms out there and which one is best,” she says. “I, of course, think Dataquest is best,” she adds. But there’s no one platform that’s right for everyone, so knowing what works for you is a good place to start.